8 issues to like about Royal Caribbean’s smallest ship, Grandeur of the Seas

Royal Caribbean just lately opened bookings on its greatest ship ever. When it launches in 2024, Icon of the Seas would be the largest cruise ship afloat and loaded high to backside with all the things from an ice rink to a number of splashy slides. The 21-deck-high ship will tower over the 12-deck-high Grandeur of the Seas, the smallest ship within the Royal Caribbean fleet. So who’s going to wish to cruise on the littlest ship? Me — and presumably you, too.

First, let’s make clear what “little” means in terms of the cruise line recognized for its record-breaking ships. Grandeur of the Seas is on no account a small ship, carrying 1,992 friends at double occupancy (2,440 passengers at most occupancy). It’s truly fairly giant, measuring 73,817 gross tons and stretching 12 decks excessive (11 of these are for friends). Although it launched in 1996, the ship has been extensively refurbished and frequently maintained. It boasts a mountaineering wall, children membership with nursery, and spa and health heart.

I just lately cruised aboard Grandeur and located loads of individuals who loved this smaller measurement of Royal Caribbean cruise ship. On my crusing, Grandeur was at full capability, however I realized that the bigger ship (belonging to sister firm Superstar Cruises) parked subsequent to us in Cozumel was not even near capability. Which means Girl G, as Grandeur is usually fondly referred to as, have to be doing one thing proper.

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Here is what I cherished in regards to the smallest ship in Royal Caribbean’s present fleet — and what you may get pleasure from as nicely.

Grandeur of the Seas is intimate

Solarium on Grandeur of the Seas. MELINDA CROW/THE POINTS GUY

Grandeur of the Seas provides off a sense of intimacy as quickly as you step on board. Clustered seating areas scattered across the round four-deck-high Centrum beckon you to sit down and chat or benefit from the reside music typically taking part in there. The adults-only Solarium with a bar for refreshments was my go-to quiet spot as a result of I by no means needed to look ahead to a free lounge chair within the calming house. The small measurement additionally makes it easy for crew members to get to know friends. By day two, the server at Park Cafe (additionally within the Solarium) already knew that I’d desire a cup of fruit to go along with my two slices of pepperoni pizza.

It is also easy to satisfy fellow cruisers on board smaller ships. It is just like the distinction between a go to to a playground at your native park and a go to to Disney World. You will see the identical folks day after day aboard a smaller ship, making it far simpler to strike up fascinating conversations.

The primary eating room expertise is a spotlight of the cruise

Shrimp cocktail in the principle eating room. MELINDA CROW/THE POINTS GUY

A meal in the principle eating room is at all times a cruise expertise to not be missed. From service with a flourish to a menu inviting you to strive a couple of entree, meals in the principle eating room are an iconic a part of what makes a cruise enjoyable. However amongst at present’s largest mainstream ships, these gala dinners could be the very first thing that falters.

I didn’t discover that to be the case with Grandeur. My husband and I loved the meals and repair a lot that we missed it on the nights we dined elsewhere. We lingered over lunch in the principle eating room on sea days and had ample time for a waiter-served breakfast even on our port day. Not like current cruises on bigger ships, we discovered ourselves contemplating the principle eating room as our first alternative for all meals, quite than our final.

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Spur-of-the-moment specialty eating is feasible

Giovanni’s Desk on Grandeur of the Seas. MELINDA CROW/THE POINTS GUY

If eating in the principle eating room is like settling into your longtime favourite restaurant, having fun with the deal with of a specialty restaurant on board is the equal of a once-a-year birthday or anniversary evening out on the fanciest eatery on the town. However not like with these common eating places at residence — or the choice venues on Royal Caribbean’s greater ships — reservations for Grandeur’s extra-fee eating places weren’t onerous to get.

We dined at Giovanni’s Desk and Chops Grille and each had been scrumptious treats that lived as much as the requirements we have discovered throughout the Royal Caribbean fleet. One of the best half is that not like on greater ships the place most specialty eating venues fill to capability, Grandeur’s small measurement means you’ll be able to nearly at all times get a reservation, even on the final minute. Our Giovanni’s reservation required nothing greater than a fast cease by the restaurant through the lunch hour on the identical day we wished to have dinner. We acquired the precise occasions we requested at each eating places — no have to eat overly early or late to get a desk.

It is simple to get across the ship

Centrum on Grandeur of the Seas. MELINDA CROW/THE POINTS GUY

Grandeur’s small measurement and simple navigation make it a sensible choice for a number of varieties of cruisers. New cruisers don’t have to fret about getting misplaced and vacationers with mobility challenges will discover that almost all of the ship is accessible and distances between cabins and public areas are comparatively quick. The ship’s smaller measurement additionally simplifies issues for households with kids. It’s simpler for older children to seek out their manner round, and much less complicated for folks to seek out them when they should. As for the tiny tots onboard, each step that oldsters can save whereas carrying or strolling with little ones, or pushing a cumbersome stroller, is an enchancment to the cruise expertise.

I particularly love that Grandeur has a standard outdoors promenade alongside the edges of Deck 5, excellent for friends with out balconies (on decks 2-4) searching for a close-by quiet place to step outdoors for recent air or to observe sail away. The promenade has deck chairs and shade. Despite the fact that Grandeur’s promenade doesn’t full a full circle across the ship, you’ll be able to nonetheless stroll laps by chopping by way of the stairwell lobbies. Not like some strains, Royal Caribbean has stored out of doors promenade decks on all its ships, although on a few of its latest ships, they’ve morphed into areas with restricted views which might be much less inviting for merely hanging out than the basic promenade on Grandeur.

Grandeur can go to ports which might be off-limits to bigger ships

The largest ships can not go to sure ports, usually on account of restrictions positioned on the variety of day by day guests or precise docking measurement restrictions. Grandeur’s small measurement places it in an elite class amongst Royal Caribbean’s ships as a result of it will probably name in locations its bigger fleetmates can not. The ship presently has stops scheduled in idyllic ports like Bonaire; St. Croix; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; and Key West, Florida, all of which place limitations on bigger ships.

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What it lacks in top-deck thrills, it makes up for in old style enjoyable

As a result of Grandeur doesn’t characteristic an array of rides and slides, its actions staff makes its personal enjoyable, together with egg drops within the multistory Centrum, emotional flag parades with the crew members and well-attended origami classes. I discovered extra trivia classes and recreation show-style occasions on board the ship than I’ve skilled in a very long time. It is the form of enjoyable households wish to have collectively as a substitute of scattering throughout a number of venues all day, solely to see each other at bedtime — and also you by no means really feel wired attempting to do all of it earlier than the crusing ends.

Cabin decisions are price range pleasant, with alternatives to splurge

Ocean-view cabin on Grandeur of the Seas. MELINDA CROW/THE POINTS GUY

Grandeur has a mere 996 cabins. (For comparability, Icon of the Seas may have 2,805.) But its mixture of rooms affords loads of alternative for budget-conscious vacationers, plus choices for splurging on nicer and bigger lodging.

On the reasonably priced aspect, 40% (399) of Grandeur’s lodging are inside cabins, offering a bounty of low-cost rooms. I checked just a few of those out and although they’re small, ample storage makes the tight quarters extra manageable. Ocean-view cabins make up the next-largest class, with 381 rooms starting from Deck 2 porthole cabins to a large Oceanview Suite on Deck 8. These cabins provide an reasonably priced resolution for many who really want to see the sunshine of day. My favorites on this group are the centrally situated spacious ocean-view cabins on decks 7 and eight.

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Cruisers used to balcony cabins on newer ships should guide early to snag one of many 127 common balcony cabins, all on Deck 7. For one thing greater, a complete of 72 junior suites on decks 7 and eight embody cabins that face aft, with stunning views looking over the ship’s wake. This premium location is often reserved for a lot bigger and costlier suites on new ships, so aft lovers can discover their glad place for much less on Girl G. Talking of suites, Grandeur has 17 well-appointed suites on Deck 8, together with 4 two-bedroom Grand Suites and 5 gorgeous Proprietor’s Suites with bathtubs I might have spent the whole cruise soaking in.

Fares are decrease than the road’s averages

Grandeur of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN

It would not take a math wizard to determine that smaller, older ships have decrease fares than the shiny new behemoths. I ran just a few searches of seven-night Caribbean cruises and decided that the hole could be as excessive as a number of hundred {dollars} per particular person between Grandeur and its bigger Royal Caribbean fleetmates, relying on the itinerary, cabin class and dates. The common distinction is over $100 per particular person.

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These lower-priced sailings are nice for vacationers on a price range or new cruisers undecided they wish to make investments quite a bit in an untried trip sort. However they will additionally assist loyal cruisers attain the highest tiers of Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Society loyalty program. I chatted with a pair who had been deliberately utilizing the Grandeur of the Seas’ cheaper fares to assist them transfer as much as the Pinnacle degree of Royal Caribbean’s loyalty program extra shortly. Their purpose is to achieve this standing earlier than their 87-night section of the road’s 2023-2024 World Cruise as a result of that degree would give them far larger perks on the lengthy voyage. It’s an excellent technique.

Backside line

Grandeur of the Seas just isn’t a ship loaded with splashy sights, however I discovered it to have unimaginable service, fabulous meals and value-priced cabins. I preferred not having to pay for extras to completely benefit from the cruise as a result of there’s lots to do — plus house to do nothing, as nicely.

I would fortunately sail on Grandeur of the Seas once more — I’m truly eyeing just a few of the ship’s longer itineraries scheduled for late 2023. Who else may get pleasure from Grandeur the best way I did? The listing consists of loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers who don’t make the most of all the flowery sights on board the larger ships, new cruisers hoping to leap in on a small scale first, and households who could make their very own enjoyable or who would get pleasure from old style video games and onboard actions. Finances-conscious cruisers will love the ship’s comparatively reasonably priced fares, solo cruisers could make use of the ship’s measurement to satisfy new cruise associates, and long-time cruisers on the lookout for new ports to discover will admire itineraries full of locations the bigger ships can not go to.

However Girl G just isn’t for everybody. Cruisers who’re drawn to the bells and whistles of the larger ships — together with water sights, further leisure venues, further meals decisions and extra cabin choices — ought to in all probability skip Grandeur and persist with Royal Caribbean’s newer ships. On this age of megaships, I’m simply glad the cruise line remains to be maintaining a few of its smaller ships round for these of us who actually do admire them.

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